Summary: An expert group (2003 Technical Panel) reviewed official projections of the long-term financial status of the U.S. Social Security system and recommended changes in both the methods and the assumptions used. This paper reviews the mortality component of these projections and discusses the Panel’s recommendations, which include an increase in assumed rates of future mortality decline and a simplification of the methodology (projecting all forms of mortality together, rather than separately by cause of death). The general methodological issues discussed here may be relevant in many situations, whenever mortality forecasts are obtained through the extrapolation of past trends.
About the author
John R. Wilmoth is a professor in the Department of Demography at the University of California, Berkeley